cleaning battery leaks

Continuing the discussion from judy excavates:

i have some items with leaky batteries. how do you clean this off?


To protect the metal from more corrosion I use 90% alcohol and cotton swabs, or contact cleaner, but be careful, either can affect the plastic parts. Be careful to wash your hands or wear gloves, that leak from alkaline batteries is bad stuff for you.

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thanks medium loris friend! so 90% alcohol will not interact badly with the battery crystals? (i’m worried about a bleach+ammonia type situation and know zero chemistry.)

if i use > 90% alcohol will that be ok?

anyone have any cotton swabs? lol

thanks also tomasino on mastadon friend!

Yes, to be sure I dont mean soak your tape player in it. Vinegar or lemon juice will react but so mildly to be unnoticeable with the potassium hydroxide and neutralize the alkaline leak residue. You’ll need some tools to remove the batteries first like needle nose pliers and safety glasses are best to use to prevent fliks into your eyes. Bag the batteries and when you collect enough old batteries and electronics take them to your local hazardous waste disposal. The alcohol is more to polish the contacts clean instead of water. Energizer know batteries and reccomends what tomasino says. These look like Costco Kirkland style which are the same chemisty. Though usually the corrosion is white. If these are instead sunbeam batteries or they say heavy duty instead of alkaline its zinc chloride residue and vinegar or alcohol are safe, just dont use ammonia cleaners which causes what you mentioned worrying about. You’ll need to scrub a bit either way. You’ll probably need to replace the belt on a tape drive that old if it doesnt play or plays too slow when you’re done, which is it’s own process to find the right one, disassemble the thing right and swap it out. Nice artifact of it’s time though, i had similar things like a clear plastic stapler with colorful plastic insides. very cool.


We’re fans. :slight_smile:


thank you, everyone! i got q-tips and white vinegar, laid down a big piece of thin cardboard that had been a shipping box or something to throw away, got some cheap blue disposable gloves (nitrite?), and cleaned the inside of the battery compartment. i used the white vinegar very liberally. it did fizz up and dissolve the caked-on crystals of battery reagent!

i tried it with (admittedly old-ish) batteries and the motor moved for just a second, and then died. i then tried it with newer batteries and it didn’t move at all. so it must have other problems. new quest lol?

again, thanks to all who’ve contributed!